Earl of Hardwicke

Earl of Hardwicke

1872 — 1891

On the 16th May 1872, the Marquess of Ripon signed the Patent appointing Charles Phillip Yorke, Viscount Royston, member of Himalayan Brotherhood Lodge No. 459, as Provincial Grand Master for Cambridgeshire. Since the appointment is the Grand Master’s prerogative, Viscount Royston was in fact our Provincial Grand Master from that date, although he was only installed as such at a meeting at 29½ Green Street in April, 1873. The meeting was a regular meeting of INUL, adjourned for Provincial Grand Lodge, then resumed and closed. He appears in our Yearbook as our PGM from that latter date. He was installed by John Deighton, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master who had taken over soon after the birth of the Lodge of United Good Fellowship and had been solely in charge since the death of T.H. Hall in 1870. Deighton served the Province well. Founder, Secretary, then Treasurer of Isaac Newton, Deputy PGM for twenty-three years and Grand Superintendent for a decade, he was the pillar of Cambridgeshire masonry for over quarter of a century. He helped in steering through the permission of Grand Lodge for a public procession of forty or fifty brethren of 88 and 441 to Great St. Mary’s in 1872. It was the occasion of a great turn out of local City organisations to celebrate the recovery from serious illness of the Prince of Wales. The idea of joining in the public procession in their Masonic regalia came from Scientific, copies of the resolution being sent to 441 and 859 by way of inviting them to join in. 441 responded enthusiastically and advised 859 that they were doing so but, alas, the University Lodge did not get around to doing anything about it. As Grand Superintendent, Deighton also consecrated Fidelity Chapter in 1872, the third in Cambridge, though the Royal Arch Province was not so closely liked to the Craft as it was later to become.

The Provincial Mastership of the Earl of Hardwicke stretches from 1872 to 1891 and covers the emergence of organised and co-ordinated Provincial charity; a second University Lodge in 1874; the start of our Provincial Year books and the renewal of Freemasonry in Newmarket in 1885. However, in spite of this evidence of progress, I think it fair to say that compared to most of our Provincial Grand Masters, he was not especially attentive to his duties.

Charles Phillip Yorke was another Trinity man, matriculating in 1855. Not so much the academic as Browne or Hall, he was more the sporting type and won his Blue for cricket in 1857,
taking his MA in ‘58. He began his military career in 1857 as a Cornet with the 7th Light Dragoons (according to his Obituary in The Times) though Burke’s Peerage says he became a Lieutenant in the 11th Hussars. However, he was all that the Victorians expected of a dashing Cavalry Officer. He saw service during the Indian Mutiny, but resigned his commission in 1 861 and tried his hand at politics. Sitting as MP for Cambridgeshire (where the family was still very influential) from 1865 until he inherited the Title, he became a Privy Councillor, served as Comptroller of the Royal Household between 1866-68 and was then appointed Master of the Queen’s Buck-hounds. In the very year that he was Installed as our Provincial Grand Master his father died and he became the 5th Earl of Hardwicke. His friend the Prince of Wales, who stood sponsor at the Christening of his son, Albert, became Grand Master of the Craft in the following year.

Viscount Royston was closely involved with the sporty set of Edward, Prince of Wales, who frequently stayed at Wimpole Hall when he was up at Cambridge. He was well known as a man about town and Lady Battersea, a contemporary, described him thus:

‘I can see him now in faultless attire, with his carefully arranged satin tie, his beautiful pearl pin, his lustrous hat balanced at a certain angle on his well brushed hair, his coat sleeves showing precisely the same amounts of white cuff his pleased-with-himself-and-the-world expression.’

Royston shared the Prince’s enthusiasm for horse racing and was reputed to be one of the unluckiest owners (and punters) of the age. The Hardwicke Stakes commemorates his love of horses and the Sport of Kings. The loss of Wimpole Hall commemorates his lack of success at it. He would drink nothing but Champagne and the Victorian song ‘Champagne Charlie is my name’ was a direct skit on the 5th Earl of Hardwicke. The 4th Earl (retired Admiral with keen farming interests) had left the family fortune in a strong position and Royston inherited 19,000 acres in Cambridgeshire, together with lands in Cornwall and other areas, including the estate at Hardwicke in Gloucestershire from which the title was assumed by the 1st Earl. Within eighteen years the 5th Earl was broke and heavily in debt. He withdrew from his role as our Provincial Grand Master. He tried to sell Wimpole Hall in 1891 but it did not reach its reserve price and he hung on to it for three years more until his chief creditors, Robarts the Bankers, accepted it as part settlement of the £300,000 he owed to their bank. He was only saved from the ignominy of being declared Bankrupt by Robarts agreeing to pay him and his two daughters (Feodorowna and Magdalena, unusually!) a small annuity as a further charge on the estate. He died in May 1897 after a few days illness.

The Earl never showed any more interest in Cambridgeshire Freemasonry than the basic requirements of the post demanded. There is no record in the minutes of the Lodges of the Province, 88, 441, 809 or 859 that the Earl ever visited them. In fact, his only communication with Scientific would appear to be a cool little note informing them (in December 1877) that for the intended visit of the Prince of Wales to Cambridge, no Masonic action was recommended. This was after they had written to the Provincial Secretary for advice on how to celebrate the occasion! Three Grand Principles fared little better. Apparently Hardwicke did, after their Jubilee jaunt on the river in July 1886 (unattended by any Provincial representative), invite them to recommend a possible successor to James Neal York as Deputy PGM. They duly and carefully pondered and suggested Joseph Bell, a Saffron Walden man, as an ideal candidate. Formal thanks for the suggestion was returned by the Provincial Grand Secretary on 8th August 1886, but no further reply is recorded. Their suggestion was ignored. Nevertheless, the Lodge very sportingly congratulated Andrew H. Moyes of Scientific and elected him an Honorary Member at their next Installation. The Earl did, however, accede to their request that Provincial Grand Lodge might be held under 441’s banner in their Jubilee year and it was so. He did not attend.

Hardwicke attended his own Installation of course, in 1873. Thereafter his next official appearance in the Province seems to have been over ten years later, at the funeral of John Deighton, who died following a fall from his dogcart. The Earl was not present at the Emergency meeting called to plan the funeral arrangements, but he did lead the procession of over seventy Freemasons, in regalia, to Mill Road cemetery. He next presided over a meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge at Wisbech under the banner of 809 in the following year, 1884. Wide public notice was given about the event, but that again was a special occasion. Hardwicke there installed James Neal York of Scientific as his new Deputy conducting the ceremony himself. Then, after the investiture of the new Deputy, he spoke most warmly about the work of John Deighton before leading a public procession of Freemasons from the schoolroom of St. Augustine’s, where the Provincial meeting was held, to the church. There a new reredos, erected by the generosity of Bro. John W. Shepherd, was consecrated by the Provincial Grand Chaplain of Suffolk and the brethren provided the bulk of the congregation. They returned in procession to St. Augustine’s before closing the special meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge. Eighty to ninety brethren sat down to the banquet afterwards and were clearly put into a cheerful frame of mind the collection for Charity at dinner raised fifteen guineas against the £9.18s collected at the Church service.

The following year, in June, the Earl missed the special meeting of INUL in the Guildhall though it was a very large gathering to witness the Raising of HRH Prince Albert Edward of Wales, who had been elected to membership of INUL in the previous April. He did, however, preside on the 12th November 1885, when Provincial Grand Lodge was held in the Jockey Club at Newmarket no doubt by courtesy of the Earl’s friends, I expect the PGM had a greater than usual interest in the Lodge that was being formed. It had certainly required some negotiation between the PGM of Suffolk, Lord Waveney and Hardwicke. The result can be seen in the agreement, preserved in the Provincial minute book, whereby Waveney

‘assents that the parishes of Newmarket Saint Mary and Exning, both in the County of Suffolk, which are surrounded by the County of Cambridge as shown on the within plan be taken for the purposes of Freemasonry as part of the Province of Cambridgeshire’

Hardwicke appended his own signature and agreement to take them under his jurisdiction.

The meeting was planned for the Consecration of the Etheldreda Lodge No. 2107 and Freemasonry returned to Newmarket after a lapse of ninety years since the erasure of St. John’s Lodge in 1794. The Consecration ceremony was not conducted by the PGM but left to V.W. Bro. Shadwell H. Clerke, who performed it to the full satisfaction of all who reported on the matter, including the Cambridge Chronicle. The Chronicle also reported the sum of £315 voted to the Masonic Charities. For those who find it an odd sum, please recall the date and the place! The amount is three hundred guineas.

Newmarket Freemasons had been about fourteen miles from the nearest Lodge and that must be covered by horse-drawn vehicle. Usually brethren visiting would club together and hire a coach and coachman to take them out and deliver them safely home. I’m told they used to break their journey home at The Swan, at Bottisham, often awakening the landlord and getting him up to minister to the horses (that was the excuse) and to the brethren. It is not at all surprising that a group of them decided to seek support for a Newmarket Lodge. Scientific was the ‘sponsoring’ Lodge, probably through the influence of James Neal York, the Deputy, who was a strong local backer and Founder. Valuable support came from Bury St. Edmunds as well. Sadly, York died in 1886 and is commemorated by a window in St. Mary’s Parish Church in Newmarket and by the existence of the York Lodge of Mark Master Masons, of which he was the first WM. Hardwicke thereupon attended the Provincial Grand Lodge at the Lion Hotel that November, to invest Andrew Moyes of Scientific as the new Deputy. He left it to Moyes to preside at the celebrations of the Queen’s Jubilee in June ‘87. Again the brethren of the Province processed in Masonic Clothing from the Lion Hotel, via the Guildhall, where the members of the Corporation were ready to begin their procession and on between two ranks of Cambridge Volunteers to Great St. Mary’s for the service of Thanksgiving. It is delightful to read that His Worship the Mayor, Brother Redfern, processed with his Lodge until they reached the Guildhall, where he changed over his regalia in order to lead his colleagues of the Town Corporation for the ‘second leg’. Later that year, at the November Provincial Meeting, Hardwicke was again in the Chair when the first Registrar’s report appeared in the Provincial Minutes. He presided again in 1889 and in 1890 (involving another procession to Great St. Mary’s for a service). After that, Moyes was the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge when Hardwicke at last insisted that the Grand Master should accept his resignation. Hardwicke had attended seven Provincial meetings in more than eighteen years, five of them in his last five years, but had not visited any of his Lodges privately.

During the decade leading up to the establishment of Etheldreda, Hardwicke’s Province had gained an additional Lodge in the decision of Alma Mater No. 1492 to move from Bletchley to Cambridge. Spiritually, Alma Mater must be considered a Cambridge Lodge for it was fifteen members of INUL (including John Deighton and Robert Townley Caldwell, then the WM) who signed the Petition. However, it was in fact Lodge 1410, St. Peter and St. Paul at Wolverton, that was persuaded to act as the official sponsoring Lodge. The man who did the persuading was John Studholme Brownrigg, Rector of Moulsoe near Newport Pagnell, member of Magdalene College and Lodges 88, 859 and 1410. He was then Deputy PGM of Berkshire & Buckinghamshire. Brownrigg was Initiated in Scientific on 10th November 1860 and became one of the first Joining Members of INUL at the very first Emergency meeting of 16th March 1861. He acted as Junior and then Senior Deacon at two more of the pre-Consecration emergency meetings but did not go into Office formally until the Installation in October 1861, when he was invested as Junior Warden. Given Provincial Rank as Provincial Junior Grand Deacon by T.H. Hall at the Provincial Grand Lodge of 1862, he was still just under twenty-one. He was WM of Isaac Newton Lodge in 1863. Fast work – even for INUL.

According to his letter of March 1874 to the Grand Secretary, Brownrigg’s notion was
‘intended as a Lodge of ease to the Isaac Newton University Lodge at Cambridge, that Lodge being so overcrowded that many eligible candidates for the Master’s Chair are shut out. It is started in a place acceptable to Cambridge and London and not either in Cambridge or London as we desire to guard against any possible rivalry either now or at any future time with existing University Lodges.’

He was right about the pressure on INUL; quite wrong in hoping a Lodge at Bletchley could solve it. Attendance was very poor at Bletchley. They held twenty meetings there, all on Saturday afternoons, the times depending on the current train timetable, but the average attendance was about six, being four or less on at least six or seven occasions. There were no Initiations only sixteen Joining members, all from INUL and the only Masonic ceremony performed was Installation. However, perhaps the nine Masters installed there may never have managed to reach the Chair through INUL. Most of them got there within two years of joining. To that extent the Lodge ‘eased’ the problem of scores of Undergraduates entering a Lodge that regularly performed three ceremonies per evening, held numbers of ‘Emergency Meetings’ for the purpose and Initiated, Passed and Raised candidates in large groups at times. It was a much different workload in Alma Mater.

In 1883, when Brownrigg was appointed to a post in London, it proved impossible for him to continue bearing the main load of the Bletchley Lodge on his shoulders. The May meeting had to be cancelled and the four members who attended the next Lodge night decided to apply for the meetings to be transferred to the University Arms Hotel, Cambridge. This might be seen as negating the original principle of the Lodge and it is true there was considerable misgiving in the ranks of INUL Past Masters, but the change took place. At the end of 1885 the Lodge met in the University Arms and their first candidate for Initiation was proposed. This was a departure for Alma Mater and some of the INUL Past-Masters were a little apprehensive about the effect on Isaac Newton. Very unkindly they managed to prevent another candidate being initiated until 1903! At first the Lodge endeavoured to avoid conflict of interest – although it seems an odd way to do it – by meeting on the same day and at the same time as INUL (even whilst a ‘tenant’ of INUL at the Corn Exchange Street Masonic Hall) but an amendment of Alma Mater By-laws in 1901 returned them to Saturdays and made it clear that University members of MA status were the natural and only recruits to Lodge 1492. The tension that existed has fortunately long since disappeared and Alma Mater now functions as a more or less standard Lodge specialising in University graduates though still with a particularly close ‘family’ relationship to INUL.

S.C. Kirchoffer, the first WM of Alma Mater, met the then Secretary of Alma Mater in an INUL meeting in 1902, some twenty-eight years after the Consecration and told him his version of the Consecration of the Lodge. By some accident or oversight, the rooms intended for the meeting were not booked The Alma Mater Lodge was therefore constituted in the second class Waiting Room of Bletchley station by Bro. Brownrigg, who banged on the table with his umbrella and constituted the Lodge. The Apollo representatives demanded that Oxford members should receive two nominations for Master to each one for Cambridge and, this being refused walked out in a body. Brownrigg thereupon appointed and invested the officers and closed, all in sixteen minutes. This became a widely accepted version in the Province and is undoubtedly my favourite story about Alma Mater. It is also, according to the Minutes and to the late Dr George Walker (historian of the Lodge and one of my two principal mentors in Freemasonry) a complete myth. So many good stories are. Such a pity! But then W.Bro. Kirchoffer was an Irishman from Ballyvourney and Irishmen always liked a good story.

Towards the end of the first decade of the Earl of Hardwicke’s period, a decade in which John Deighton carried the main work of the Province with great application, there began the publication of the little booklet now taken for granted by every mason in Cambridgeshire I refer of course to the Provincial Year Book. It was begun in 1883 as a private contribution by William Spalding the Printer of 43, Sidney Street. He offered it, in his own words, ‘With a sincere desire to promote the good cause of Masonry with all its attendant beneficent influences’. I well remember that, when I became a Master Mason (too many years ago) it was to Spalding’s in Green Street that I was sent, there to ask for an Emulation ‘Nigerian’ Ritual. Spalding’s first offerings came in the form of a standard pocket Diary, with details of Grand Lodge and the Lodges and Chapters of the Province added. His comments on the events of the past year are the forerunner of Provincial Secretaries’ Reports and are there to be read by anyone who cares to browse in the Provincial library. Within a very short time the value of the little booklet became so apparent that at the Newmarket Consecration meeting, a sum of £10 was voted towards the publication, provided Bro. Spalding continued to edit it and it was soon published ‘By Order of Provincial Grand Lodge’. Unfortunately, William Spalding soon gave up his little summaries as the publication became more detailed and ‘Official’.

Of his early references, undoubtedly the most important is his note that ‘For some time past the deficiency both in the amount and organisation of the contribution to the Charities has been heavily felt and deplored by the brethren.’ He pointed out that both 88 and 441 had passed resolutions in favour of some co-ordination of efforts. Writing of 441 he said that ‘in collecting, after banquets, upwards of £13 for the Charities during the past year, the brethren of this Lodge have proved that they are in earnest in their desire to do more for the Charities’. Actually, formal motions to establish a Provincial ‘Charity organisation’ with three members from each Lodge, were passed in November 1 882, at the last Provincial Grand Lodge chaired by John Deighton, just a year before his accident and subsequent death. The code of rules and regulations proposed by this committee was presented to the Provincial meeting in Wisbech and – on the motion of the PGM, seconded by his new Deputy approved unanimously. The organisation delegated to carry these rules into effect included the PCM as President and the Deputy as Vice President, as today. Oliver Papworth, of Lodge 88, was Secretary of what is certainly one of the oldest and, so far as we can gather, probably the oldest Provincial Benevolent Association in the country. A short printed report was submitted to the Provincial Grand Lodge in 1 884 detailing the attendance of the WMs of 88 and 441 as Stewards attending the Girls’ and Boys’ festivals respectively and explaining the numbers of ‘Votes’ the Province had earned. At that time, contributions earned ‘votes’ which could be transferred, borrowed and loaned. The Associations of the different Provinces collected in the ‘votes’ earned by their members and then made deals and traded votes with neighbouring Associations to elect children into the school, or annuities for deserving brethren. 441 had established a regular system by which three votes were purchased each year. The minutes for April 1886 show that it was

‘Agreed that the amount collected for the year in the Charity Box be taken not in January next and divided into three equal amounts. That three brethren be invited to supplement these sums making them up to 5gns each and take up with it a Life Vote for one of the three charities. That the WM for the time being shall have first offer and priority of choice …’

It goes on to arrange for a ballot if more than three brethren apply for the privilege and to say that, should the sum in the box be £12 or over, it shall be FOUR portions. By 1890, perhaps feeling that brethren involved were not contributing sufficiently themselves, they amended the system so that it should be four shares when the sum reached £9 and in no case should the share exceed 3gns, thus ensuring that any volunteer had to cough up at least two guineas for his stewardship. The system continued for years and Oliver Papworth became an expert negotiator in acquiring and accumulating votes for the benefit of petitioners supported by Cambridgeshire. Audited accounts were a part of the Charity report, as was a full list of contributors, by Lodge and the number of ‘votes’ they had earned. From then on, the reports become regular and progressively more successful.

William Spalding also had space in his little booklet to mention that, in 1883, INUL had purchased a site in Corn Exchange Street. It caused hardly a ripple in the Province, none being able to foresee the profound importance of that move for City Freemasonry. In that era the Isaac Newton men appear to have been the only Lodge in the Province to have consistently and persistently pursued the aim of a place of their own. Beginning in 1870, years of proposals, sub-committees, reports, fresh proposals and fresh subcommittees culminated in the Lodge meeting of March 1883 accepting a report from the finance committee, which met in the rooms of the Revd J.H. Cray at Queens’. Cray was very active in the fund raising and a keen supporter of the concept of a Masonic Hall. It recommended the purchase of a property of five tenements, on a 71 foot by 77 foot site on Corn Exchange Street, for £2,500. They believed that, once a site was acquired, contributions for the Building Fund would be much less difficult to attract. The Lodge authorised the purchase and later, at the following meeting, accepted the advice of Bro. Bonnett that the reversion of the leasehold might be secured from the Town Corporation at a moderate cost. They went ahead. So pleased were the brethren with Bro. Bonnett’s advice and conveyancing services without charge to the Lodge, that they voted him ‘some piece of plate as a small token’. Although at first apparently daunted by the huge estimated building requirement of £6,000, their fund raising went sufficiently well for the magnificent Masonic Hall to be opened less than ten years later. The true value of this investment was not generally realised until, seventy-five years on, it provided the basic capital which alone made the purchase of Cheshunt College, by the Cambridge Masonic Hall Company & INUL, possible.

The Earl of Hardwicke had previously expressed a wish to resign his Cambridgeshire post and, on 13th April 1891, wrote to Col. Clarke advising HRH the Prince of Wales firmly that he had resigned, on the grounds of being likely to sell his house and no longer be resident in Cambridgeshire. In his letter he recommends Colonel Caldwell as his successor, saying that he is a local man, well known and respected in the Craft. In May he was able to write again to the Prince’s Private Secretary and thank His Royal Highness for kind remarks and for acceding to the recommendation about Caldwell. This was probably the greatest service that the Earl of Hardwicke had performed for his Province. The Provincial Grand Lodge of 1891 was opened by W.Bro. Moyes, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge and it welcomed R.W.Bro. Lord Henniker, PGM of Suffolk, who installed Robert Townley Caldwell in a style closely approaching our present practice. A polite vote of thanks for his services to the Province over eighteen and a half years was unanimously agreed and sent to the Earl of Hardwicke. His equally polite reply, read the following year, corrected the eighteen and a half to nineteen and wished the brethren well. The Province was now under the guidance of a leading local Mason who had already served as our Grand Superintendent since the death of Neal York in 1886. A new era had begun.

Extract from “Cambridgeshire Encompassed” by kind permission of W.Bro. Jim Whitehead